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|Travel & Resources: SRI LANKA
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Please help us keep our Sri Lanka listings up-to-date. Special thanks to Marty1, anton888, ghekko62, btonboz, kvw, jamescanada, jamesto, yakka01, ChrisUKEssex, chompi27, lovetotravel, Kurt, btonboz, Stathis, Dimuthu, Mike, Anton and Sahran for updates!
Advisory: Although homosexual activity between consenting adult males remains technically illegal in Sri Lanka (vestiges of antiquated 1883 colonial anti-sodomy laws), gays are more visible than ever in culture, politics and local sidewalk cafés. With India now having rejected the anti-gay strictures of their former colonial masters, signs are hopeful that peaceful Sri Lanka will follow. Lesbianism was not mentioned in law until 1995 when a bunch of men in government criminalized sex between women as "sadism." Local activists are working to decriminalize private homosexual activities enjoyed by more than one million Utopians in Sri Lanka.|
Click here for pictures and a special report from
Sri Lanka's First Gay Pride Celebration.
- Companions on a Journey
46/50 Robert E Gunawardena Mawatha, Colombo 6, (94-11) 485-1535, email. An exclusively LGBT organization founded in 1995 and focusing their work in three main areas: advocacy for protection of rights of LGBT people and decriminalisation of consenting adult homosexuality; networking; and providing peer based outreach services. They operate two drop-in centers in Colombo and Kandy. In addition, they conduct film screenings, host reading room facilities and social get-togethers. They also provide peer counseling, STI/HIV testing and treatment and provide free condoms and information on STIs/HIV through peer outreach workers.
- EQUAL GROUND
Colombo, +94-11-567-9766, 251-2977, email. Focusing on the human rights of Sri Lanka's LGBTIQ communities. They fight for the equitable status of all sexual orientations and gender identities and to eliminate the physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological abuse stemming from strict interpretations of gender and sexuality. They also offer a phone counseling service as well, on either phone line, and regularly hold activities for LB women and travelers are welcome to call about activities for the LGBTIQ community and LB women. They host an annual event called Women On Top to celebrate International Women's Day. They hosted and facilitated the first South Asian LB women's Conference in Sri Lanka. They also have women-only extracurricular activities such as open house, dancing, etc. EQUAL GROUND is the convening organisation PRIDE in Sri Lanka and is generally in June each year with dates posted on their website a few months in advance.
Pink Escapes UTOPIA VERIFIED SEP 2012|
Email, +91 999-000-3043. Gay-owned, straight-friendly luxury and bespoke travel planners. They will show you Sri Lanka's splendors in style, with a well-rounded and unforgettable itinerary. Their insider connections offer enthralling opportunities to meet like-minded members from the local community, spend time with a talented selection of staff, experience great hospitality and get invited to private events that are not typically available to the everyday traveler. Putting together a Signature Dream Journey for you is their passion, whether you fancy a private break, desire a passionate surprise for your partner, bonding with friends, or traveling with your family. Ask them to design a wedding or vow renewal. Matchless care based on your personal interests and travel preferences. Utopia Member Discount
Go Lanka UTOPIAN VERIFIED APR 2013
Email, +94-7-1869-7942. Countrywide tour and travel arrangements from understanding and capable staff. Gay-friendly. Utopia Member Discount
Comments from Utopians:
"In Feb I had a Go Lanka driver for two weeks. He was a safe driver with a modern, well-maintained aircon vehicle. Steven knows very well all sides of his country. He is a reliable, smart and hospitable driver and speaks excellent English. Always smiling, he understands very well what you want to see and how you want to travel." -- ulysse, Apr 14, 2013
"I recently experimented with the services of Go Lanka and rented a car with Steven as a driver for a 4-day tour. I highly recommend him for this kind of trip; you will travel in full confidence." -- satapanak, Jan 29, 2013
"For five days I explored the cultural triangle of Sri Lanka's ancient capitals with Steven and I recommend this very friendly traveling companion. Steven knows very well the wonders of his magnifique country. Travel was relaxed, in a very clean car with aircon (essential). At the beginning Steven was our guide; now he has become a friend!" -- Alain, Aug 21, 2012
"Steven from Go Lanka, was wonderful, good English and safe driving. He customized a program for us from airport to hotels with various tours to parts of Sri Lanka during our stay. Steven arranged the program to suit our needs and although we chopped and changed a little bit, nothing was too much trouble. He also arranged some evening entertainment along the way. Great job." -- Graham Jul 14, 2012
"I have visited Sri Lanka many times over the last few years and on each occasion Steven from Go Lanka has provided me with a wonderful service. He has fantastic local knowledge and contacts. He can easily arrange things like airport transfers. His speciality is organising bespoke tours including transport, visits to places of interest (including sourcing highly knowledgeable guides) and recommending great accommodation and restaurants. Together we have traveled all over Sri Lanka, from Galle in the southwest to Trincomalee in the northeast. taking in most of the heritage sites. He is a safe driver he only uses modern, well maintained aircon vehicles. He is reliable, smart and hospitable and speaks excellent English." -- Peter, Jul 6, 2012
"Just completed a 6 day tour, organised by Steven at Go Lanka, through the Cultural Triangle returning to Negombo via the southern beaches and Galle. Steven's service is friendly and professional and his friends/guides at the historical sites made each site come alive with their depth of knowledge. Meeting his friends along the way and dining out with them was another highlight of the tour. Steven's professionalism and service were exceptional, even when the plans changed on route. I believe that I have gained an insight into Sri Lankan culture that I would not have gained on a larger tour. I would highly recommended Go Lanka." -- Steven M., Jun 10, 2012
"I have recently completed a 7-day tour with Go Lanka. Steven is clearly committed to providing a professional service, and I always felt safe and comfortable. He is also an excellent traveler, and brought to life all of the beautiful places we visited. I am happy to recommend his company to others." -- Tom M., Jun 6, 2012
Sanjeewa Tours UTOPIA VERIFIED MAR 2013|
Dankotuwa, No29/A Yogiyana, +94 77-542-4313, email. Gay and lesbian-friendly tours to Sri Lanka with your safety and comfort in mind. Private tours with driver to some of the islands most beautiful natural settings, spectacular world heritage sites, and sacred spaces. Rely on him to smoothly manage your itinerary, benefitting from his insider knowledge and experience.
Sri Lanka Trekking Nature Holidays
Email. A small, gay and lesbian-friendly, family-managed tour organization run by an experienced trekking guide and holiday organizer. See real Sri Lanka. Experience panoramic mountain views, natural rain forests, grasslands, tea plantations, paddy fields, scrub jungles, village life, flora and fauna - all in a one day walk. Get to know locals and to take in all that Mother Nature has to offer. The trekking grade is gentle/moderate. They organize the ground arrangements. They try to steer away from the places visited by everyday tourists. Utopia Member Discount
Email. Hotel bookings, tour and vacation planning, plus all types of tourism related activities in Sri Lanka. Gay and lesbian-friendly. Utopia Member Discount
Click here for Alankuda hotels and accommodations.
Located on the coast, about halfway between Colombo and the spectacular heritage city of Galle, are two of the island's do-not-miss wonders: the garden estates of two of Sri Lanka's most famous gay luminaries, the Bawa brothers. Geoffrey Bawa is perhaps the nation's most famous modern architect, whose many projects combine both Ceylonese and colonial traditions with an environment-sensitive modernist flare (his former Colombo offices are open to the public in their current incarnation as The Gallery Café, see under Shops in Colombo).
Brief UTOPIA VERIFIED JUL 2012|
+94 34-428-7056. While overshadowed by his brother Geoffrey's grand estate, Lunuganga, Bevis Bawa's private pleasure gardens, dubbed Brief, are less sterile, more sensual, and filled with wonder and gay in-jokes at nearly every turn. These gardens are the inspiration and model for the tropical landscaping craze visible everywhere now around Southeast Asia. Assisted by his live-in guest, gay Australian artist Donald Friend, Bevis filled his Eden with naughty and provocative sculptures and a huge collection of drawing, painting, sculpture and photography, including many male nudes, still on display (though sadly decaying), by some of Asia's most renowned artists. Enter through gates whose priapic bulges are, simultaneously, the noses of bearded masks (see drawing below). Turn a corner on your garden walk and a leering goat wearing a tri-cornered hat emerges from the flowering foliage. Through the moon gate is a plunge pool being filled in an endless arc from the healthy spout of an athletic youth. Well-placed moss cleverly mimics pubic hair on other well-hung torsos. An ornate full-length mirror is perfectly positioned to reflect the more intimate landscape of the open air showers. Sit on the lap of a sleeping, naked young man etched into a concrete bench by Friend. Fertile imagination is at play everywhere: from walls of translucent glass bottles, monstera leaves pressed into ceiling plaster, handmade tiles, furniture, fabrics, glorious murals, life-size nude male lamps, on and on. Before Friend left for fame in Bali in the late 60s, the modern Asian house and garden had been invented here.
"The many sight-seeing heads
who examined his floral beds
tried to peek in his bedrooms too
for more singular sights to view.
One lady was heard to remark:
‘With such a luxuriant park
you’d think he'd turn a new leaf,
this unnatural Bawa of Brief!’
-- from The Bawa of Brief by James Broughton
+94 34-428-7056. Geoffrey Bawa's vast estate, gardens and lagoon are open for lunch (Sri Lankan cuisine), tea and guided tours by appointment.
COLOMBO / KOLAMBA -- area code (94-1)
Population is over 650,000 (that's about 26,000 Utopians).
- Lush (mixed)
Gays frequent this happening night spot.
Middle class, educated gays meet online, especially on GayRomeo, LankaLove, and Grindr. UTOPIA VERIFIED JUL 2012
Facilities in the CTB government bus stand and underground. Underground facilities in the Fort area on York St. If you are coming up York St from the Hilton it is across from the first corner of the Cargill's building (the old red brick building). Look for a stairway going down from the side walk with men's symbol. Plenty of guys just standing around looking for fun.
Colombo Municipal Council Public Library
Both facilities. Wait for an invitation. Best times: 9:30-10:30am, 1:30-3pm and 5-6:30pm.
Hanging around outside the British Council where young Sri Lankan gays go to study English.
Foot path next to the Isipatana grounds. You may need a friend to show you this location. After 6:30pm. This is a narrow path leading from one road to another but hardly used at that time because it's dark. You can see people walking and most of them are gay fun seekers.
Majestic City Shopping Mall
Galle Rd. Main lounge and facilities. Majestic City super market lobby area, 2/F and 3/F. Wait for an invitation. 10:30-11:30am, 2:30-3:30pm, and 6-7:15pm are busiest.
Mount Lavinia Beach
Very good location with several hot spots. Gays will signal. Best times are 6:30-9:30pm.
Barefoot (contemporary international) UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2011
See listing under Shops. Excellent food and service in a beautiful oasis.
The Gallery Café (contemporary international) UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2011
2 Alfred House Rd, 011-258-2162. Housed in the former offices of famous gay Sri Lankan architect, Geoffrey Bawa, this popular venue is a must-see, both for the tropical modern architecture and the for the rare chance to see a nude male photo by another famous gay Sri Lankan, Lionel Wendt, on display (sadly enough) in the men's room. Wendt, who died in 1944, was (among his many talents and interests) a pioneer of the modern male nude, celebrating his Sri Lankan subjects rather than focusing on western ideals of masculine beauty. Good food, though expensive by Sri Lankan standards. Excellent service.
Barefoot UTOPIA VISITED AUG 2011
706 Galle Rd, Colombo 3, 011-258-9305. All the best local arts, crafts, books, and colorful hand woven fabrics and fashions collected together in a charming heritage setting, in a compound including gallery and excellent restaurant.
Galle (pronounced "Gaul"), in the southern part of the island, is one of Asia's fantastic heritage destinations, yet is largely off the tourist path so you can still feel like you've made the discovery on your own.
The Old Town and 16th century Fort are full of atmosphere and romance -- especially beautiful to walk around in the cool of the late afternoon -- filled with heritage colonial buildings and incredible art deco villas.
The atmosphere is very relaxed and the people are friendly. There are plenty of shops and cafés in the Fort catering for a variety of tastes. Unsurprisingly, a number of longtime gay expats have chosen to retire in Galle. The beach of Unawatuna is also close by.
The Spa UTOPIA VERIFIED DEC 2012|
Sri Visudharama Rd, 077-038-9895, 091-228-2884, email. Located in the lovely seaside village of Ahangama, 20 minutes south of Galle between Unawatuna and Mirissa. Gay-friendly spa set in a private tropical garden. The Spa offers a variety of massage and beauty treatments including aromatherapy, ayurveda and Swedish relaxation. Young and well-trained male therapists. Their reasonable rate includes use of the tropical swimming pool. Poolside snacks and drinks are available. Please phone for an appointment. Utopia Member Discount
- Take a stroll along the Fort wall at sunset to add to your collection of warm, tropical smiles.
- Ramparts Hotel
Dining room on 1/F overlooking the ocean is perfect for a cheap meal and a beer, for lunch or dinner.
41 Pedlar St, +94 91-222-6299. Sister branch of the fantastic Colombo shopper's paradise. Pick up a colorful sarong for your evening promenade along the fort walls.
71-604-9029, email. Gay-friendly. body-to-body massage, kerala type body massage and music therapy.
Former royal city high in the verdant hills of central Sri Lanka.
The population of Kandy is over 100,000 (that's more than 4,000 Utopians).
- Kandy is a great place to see spectacularly attired male dancers and musicians performing a variety of Sri Lankan dance traditions.
- Temple of the Tooth
Dress appropriately (long pants or skirts) for this sacred spot and UNESCO world heritage site, unless you want to rent an overpriced sarong.
- Around Kandy lake. Pass the boat house and walk towards Hotel Suisse. Gays hang out here and try to act discreetly.
- Railway tracks close to the public bus stand. 6:45pm-9:30pm. Be careful.
Negombo / Migamuwa -- area code (94-31)
Negombo, the only city in Sri Lanka with relaxed, everyday gay life, is a peaceful oceanside resort just 15 minutes drive north from Colombo's international airport. Budget airlines like Air Asia offer unbelievably low priced flights from hubs like Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, making this an easy-breezy beach get-away. With tropical island pace of life, seaside dining and bars, extraordinarily friendly locals and gay-only resorts, its become a favorite holiday destination for jet-setting regional gays looking for a weekend retreat or long-stay holiday.
The population of Negombo is about 130,000 (that's over 5,000 Utopians).
Comments from Utopians:
"I need to warn you guy's about a taxi driver in Negombo. His name is Andrew Silva, at the taxi park, main street, opposite St Mary's church, and he always looking for western clients. When he knows that you meet a guy at your hotel room he will call the Tourist Police. So be careful and don't use Mr. Silva as driver." -- Frank, Jul 26, 2012
- Rodeo Bar (mixed) UTOPIA VISITED JUL 2012
- Serendip (mixed) UTOPIA VERIFIED JUL 2012
Beach disco bar with a DJ on Fri and Sat nights is the current hot spot (2011).
Comments from Utopians:
"Found a very gay-friendly spa in Negombo: Body Zone, 331/1, Poruthota Beach Rd, Kotchikade, 077-356-3201. We have been there several times and enjoyed every visit!" -- Kurt, Nov 25, 2012
- Along the main street between Lords and King Coconut at night.
- The beach from in front of La Dolce Vita up to the Jetwing hotels, especially Sunday afternoons and after dark.
- Middle class, educated gays in Negombo meet online, especially on GayRomeo, LankaLove, and ManJam UTOPIA VERIFIED JUL 2012.
- Negombo Bus Terminal, after 7:30pm until late.
Aria (international fine dining) UTOPIA VISITED JUL 2012
25 St Anthony's Lane (in the alley leading to Gomez Place and Dickman Resort), 750-0770. The dining room at this tropical modern boutique hotel offers top notch fine dining in a relaxed, casual atmosphere (although the antlers and tusks are rather disconcerting and out of place with the rest of the breezy decor). Excellent service works hard to meet your special requests. Prices are reasonable. Try the traditional watalappan, a nearly black pudding made from coconut cream, cardamom, and jaggery (palm sugar).
Bijou (Swiss cuisine) UTOPIA VISITED JUL 2012
Great food and service. Very friendly owner and good prices.
Dolce Vita (Italian Coffee shop) UTOPIA VISITED JUL 2012
Portuhota Rd, Ettukala. Enter through the driveway beside the Sea-Sands Guesthouse. Gay-friendly. Good tiramusu, baked goods and gelato. Breezy terrace with a fantastic view right beside the beach. A perfect place to watch the sunset. Their crispy pizza is good. The cole slaw was, as the waiter warned, inedible.
Jetwing Blue (Sri Lankan breakfast) UTOPIA VISITED JUL 2012
Ethukale, 227-9000. If you want to try a large selection of traditional Sri Lankan food, splurge on the breakfast buffet at this gorgeous, Asian modern 4-star boutique hotel. Sit at your table with an unspoiled view of the best stretch of beach in Negombo, watching the colorful sails of the catamarans as fishermen set sail for the morning catch. Try the bowl-shaped "hoppers," a crispy fried pancake made from rice flour, add an egg, shaved coconut, spicy chutney or fragrant sambal to taste. Noodle-shaped hoppers make perfect nests for a variety of curries, lentils or dahls. Fresh tropical fruit and vegetable juices are chilling on ice. Crusty breads, Wood Apple jam, buffalo curd with a drizzle of treacle, banana and butter cake all make a perfect compliment for strong Ceylon breakfast tea.
Lords (western and Sri Lankan) UTOPIA VISITED JUL 2012
Portuhota Rd, Ettukala. Funky, arty open air restaurant with gallery. Western and Sri Lankan food served with popular Australian wines. Gay-owned.
Sunny in the park at the 2012 International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia, Hong Kong.